April is rapidly coming to an end, which means you only have a couple more days to enter Figment’s Script Frenzy Contest for the chance to win a script consultation with Hollywood bigwig Scott Myers. The film industry insider, who is also a renowned screenwriting teacher, has almost 30 TV and film credits to his name, including the hit K-9 with Jim Belushi, Alaska starring Thora Burch, and Trojan War with Jennifer Love Hewitt. For one final does of inspiration to push through to the end of your Script Frenzy projects, here’s a handy q-and-a with Scott himself…
Q: What films should any aspiring screenwriter be sure to watch? Are those different from the screenplays an aspiring screenwriter should be sure to read?
A: I have a writing mantra: “Read scripts. Watch movies. Write pages.” It is critical for any aspiring screenwriter to immerse him/herself in the world of cinema. The first two parts of the mantra speak to feeding your writer’s soul. The last aspect allows your writer’s soul to tap into your creativity and see what you can create.
As to what movies or screenplays you should watch and read? My advice: All of them!
A great start: The top 250 movies as voted by IMBD users which you can access here.
Q: What are your Desert Island movies?
A: The Apartment, Casablanca, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Loved the Bomb, Up, Annie Hall, The Silence of the Lambs, The Dark Knight, Groundhog Day, Tampopo, and Wings of Desire.
Q: Aside from your own, are there websites, blogs, Twitter streams or other sources of industry news that aspiring screenwriters should follow?
A: JohnAugust.com is a great screenwriting resource, hosted by a professional screenwriter.
Hollywoodreporter.com is one of Hollywood’s oldest and most informative trade publications.
BoxOfficeMojo.com is an excellent source about movies and their box office performance.
RottenTomatoes.com provides great coverage of movie reviews.
Q: You sold your first script K-9 “on spec.” Can you explain what that means exactly? Is that a common path for a first time screenwriter?
A: Spec is short for “speculative.” What that means is a writer writes an original screenplay without compensation, writing it speculatively in the hopes that s/he can secure representation [agent and/or manager], then sell the script on the open market.
On the one hand, this is an extremely competitive endeavor with literally tens of thousands of aspiring screenwriters flooding Hollywood with scripted content every year. Therefore, the odds against success are significant.
On the other hand, every year there are dozens of writers who break into the business via a spec script. If you need proof, you need look no further than me: I was a complete outsider to Hollywood, then sold K-9 on spec, which began my 25 year career as a screenwriter.
Q: What inspires your own writing? Do you start with character? Plot? Theme?
A: I am always generating story concepts as that is the lifeblood of Hollywood. Whether it’s looking in newspapers or online for news stories to inspire my thinking or brainstorming ideas from scratch, I am a big believer in creating as many story ideas as you can… because the only way to come up with a great story idea is to come up with a lot of them.
Then I zero in on the characters as they are the heart and soul of a screenplay. In my experience, everyone from agents to managers, producers to studio executives respond to a script when the story’s characters are compelling and speak with a distinctive voice.
Q: Once you have a screenplay ready, how do you get it read by the right people?
A: This is always the number one question from aspiring screenwriters. I believe most of them spend too much time worrying about it. The simple fact is if you write a great screenplay, it will find its way to a buyer. This keeps your focus on the writing which is where it should be.
Q: What are the major differences between writing for TV and film?
A: Movies are primarily a director’s medium. If you want to control what happens to your story, write scripts that you can direct.
On the other hand, TV is a writer’s medium because it’s writers, not directors who are responsible for creating multiple episodes each season.
It is an exciting time to be a writer in Hollywood. The spec script market is hot and there are some incredible series on TV, both broadcast and cable.
In short, find a strong story concept, develop it and your story’s characters, write it with passion, and rewrite it until it’s great. Good luck!
So Figs, take Scott’s fantastic advice, get writing, and get those treatments in for the chance to win more super duper personal tips from the script guru himself!